Archive for August 2013
Another Michael O. Church bit too interesting to pass by. I can’t help mostly agree with and find interesting:
Among teachers, the demanding ones are often the best. Among managers, the demanding ones are usually the worst.
Despite — or perhaps because — I rarely pay attention to sports anymore, Hang Up and Listen, which is Slate’s sports podcast, is one of my favorites. In the latest episode they talked about an exhaustive story about all the evidence that the famous “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match between Billy Jean King and Bobby Riggs wasn’t really an even fight. It’s hardly a novel theory, but the amassing of evidence for Don Van Natta Jr. story makes it pretty hard to doubt that Riggs didn’t try to win the match.
It’s been a while since I posted one of these. But an early answer on this on made it so I had to:
You realize that other people’s life-changing realizations can sound like so many facile calendar quotations, right? A realization is just that – something you have come to know is real, for you, because of cumulative experiences and observations in your own mind.
I have a pet theory that all the most important things are banal when spoken.
Building on his idea of three capitalisms (LB), I really liked this piece from Michael O. Church about how we can understand the economy in terms of the biological idea of breeding strategies. It won’t blow up your head, but it’s a really interesting lens to apply.
An r-strategist doesn’t care about social stability, because the general assumption is that with a few hundred offspring, some will thrive no matter how damaged the environment becomes. K-strategists, on the other hand, want social progress because a fair, reasonable, predictable, and progressively improving society is the one in which quality offspring have the best chances.
Consider this is your monthly reminder that Oliver Burkeman is great and you should really read his column. This quote struck me as worthy of excerption:
The trick, I think, is to take his comment not as an instruction about how you ought to think, but a bare description of a psychological truth: if you didn’t mind what happened, then you’d never have any problems. That’s undeniable: “having a problem” and “minding something” are the same. It’s a restatement of the Stoics’ insight into human distress: no event can trigger upset without a belief that it’s undesirable.
Whatever else is true, Jason Everman has had an eventful life. A member of both Nirvana and Sonic Youth, he went on to be a well-regarded US Special Forces operative. Clay Tarver tells his story so far well:
Kurt Cobain had just killed himself, and this was a story about his suicide. Next to Cobain was the band’s onetime second guitarist. A guy with long, strawberry blond curls. “Is this you?”
Everman exhaled. “Yes, Drill Sergeant.”
What I really like about Michael O. Church’s writing is that he’s not afraid of the philosophical while almost never going too far into the weeds. His theory about three kinds of capitalism is a great example:
I’m going to put forward the idea, here, that what we call capitalism in the United States is actually an awkward, loveless ménage à trois between three economic systems, each of which considers itself to be the true capitalism, but all three of which are quite different.
I’m not completely sold on his theory, but I think there’s more than enough meat on it to make it worth your time.
Really strong (and long, because it’s the New Yorker) essay about how the way some civil forfeiture laws are written make them prone to reckless abuse, and how that abuse actually happens. It’ll probably make you at least a little angry, but knowledge of the practice is probably one of its most powerful antidotes.
They could face felony charges for “money laundering” and “child endangerment,” in which case they would go to jail and their children would be handed over to foster care. Or they could sign over their cash to the city of Tenaha, and get back on the road. “No criminal charges shall be filed,” a waiver she drafted read, “and our children shall not be turned over to CPS,” or Child Protective Services.
“Where are we?” Boatright remembers thinking. “Is this some kind of foreign country, where they’re selling people’s kids off?” Holding her sixteen-month-old on her hip, she broke down in tears.
Having last published an old piece I about reading him, I think this piece about what, if anything, we’re supposed to understand all the protests that have gone on around the world in the last few years is an obvious follow-on. A passage that really caught my eye:
The art of politics lies in making particular demands which, while thoroughly realistic, strike at the core of hegemonic ideology and imply much more radical change. Such demands, while feasible and legitimate, are de facto impossible. Obama’s proposal for universal healthcare was such a case, which is why reactions to it were so violent.
I’ve posted a piece (only one!?) by Slavoj Žižek, and have enjoyed a few more. So when out of the giant reading backlog came a really neat piece about what makes his writing so interesting to read, I had to share. A choice quote:
The biggest obstacle facing the reader of Žižek’s work is not the academic trappings — the technical terms, the references to other thinkers — but a writing style that defies convention. Broadly speaking, the general expectation of argumentative writing is that it will lay out a more or less straightforward chain of reasons supporting a clear central claim. Even though we acknowledge that this format is almost never encountered in its pure form, it still remains a kind of ideal. In Žižek’s writing, though, it’s difficult to pick out anything like a “thesis statement,” and the argument most often proceeds via intuitive leaps rather than tight chains of reasoning.